A Republican lawmaker has claimed that there is a “distinction” between human beings and homosexuals.
Rick Brattin, a Republican lawmaker in the Missouri House of Representatives, made the shocking claim during a debate over a bill amendment to protect LGBT people from discrimination.
Arguing against the amendment, Mr Brattin claimed it would infringe upon religious liberty.
He then claimed: “When you look at the tenets of religion, of the Bible, of the Qu’ran, of other religions, there is a distinction between homosexuality and just being a human being.”
The comment, which Mr Brattin has declined to explain, has been met with shock in the local community.
In an editorial, The Kansas City Star wrote: “The statement, made on the Missouri House floor, was deplorable.
“It betrayed a stunning lack of understanding of theology and self-government: The Constitution protects all Americans from the tyranny of any single faith-based approach to secular law.
“We asked Rep. Brattin to explain his statement, but he did not return a phone call to his office.”
The amendment to protect LGBT people was withdrawn after opposition from state Republicans.
In the same session, the House passed Senate Bill 43, a measure that would actually make it more difficult to sue for discrimination.
Rights activists say the bill weakens discrimination protections for all Missourians, including LGBT people, by raising the standard for proving discrimination claims and exempting employees from being held liable for discrimination.
The local newspaper editorial continues: “The bill is another unnecessary blemish on the state. The legislation’s original sponsor owns a company facing a discrimination lawsuit, making the decision even more questionable.
[“It] now sits on Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk. The governor has made clear his desire to bring new businesses and jobs to Missouri. Supporters say SB 43 is part of an effort to make the state more business-friendly.
“But what business wants to operate in a state that tolerates discrimination? Or a state where a representative thinks gays and lesbians are less than human?
“The states that grow in the 21st century will be those that show tolerance, acceptance and intelligence. Missouri’s lawmakers are sending a clear signal this state is not any of those things.
“The governor should veto the bill. And Brattin should apologize.”